Linda Seed, author: Sneak Peek at Book 3 in the Main Street Merchants Series

Sneak Peek at Book 3 in the Main Street Merchants Series

I'm hard at work on the third book in the Main Street Merchants series, tentatively titled Nearly Wild. This is Rose's story, and I'm excited about it, because Rose has been one of my favorite characters from the first two books.

While everything is still subject to revision, I wanted to offer you a brief look at what I've got so far. Here's one scene from Book 3, just to give you some idea what's coming.

•••

Rose poured two-ounce portions of a fruity chardonnay for a disgustingly cute couple at De-Vine, the wine tasting shop where she worked. They were young—probably no older than midtwenties—and they were smiling with the glow of young love.

Part of her found it reassuring that couples like this still existed, and another part of her wanted to smack them over their damned heads with a wine bottle.

The two of them sipped the chardonnay and used snooty wine phrases like “oaky bouquet” and “clean finish.” They didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, but it wasn’t Rose’s job to tell them that.

“Special occasion?” Rose asked, leaning against the counter.

The petite, dark-haired woman giggled—she actually giggled. “You could say that.” She looked lovingly at the guy, a sandy-haired preppy type in a Lacoste polo shirt. “It’s our one month anniversary.”

“Wedding?” Rose inquired.

“Dating,” the guy said with a smug look on his face.

Oh, that’s just perfect.

“Wow. That’s cause for celebration, then,” Rose said, adding another splash of wine to each of their glasses. She felt the burn of bitterness in her stomach. That wasn’t this couple’s fault, though. Oh, no. Clueless bastards.

“It is, right?” The woman practically bubbled, all fresh-faced and dewy. She clung to her date’s arm.

“You bet.” Rose tried to keep her voice neutral. “One month—yeah, that’s a great time. Everything’s all new, and fresh. You’re so full of optimism and hope, and love.”

The woman nodded, pink-cheeked and glowing with happiness.

“And the sex.” Rose nodded knowingly. “The sex is awesome when the relationship is new. God. You barely want to do anything else, am I right?”

The woman looked a little uncomfortable, and the man blushed slightly. That was cute.

“Ah. Well, I …” the guy started.

“Of course,” Rose interrupted, “that’s when it’s new. Before he lets on that, yes, he told you that you were perfect, he told you that he loved everything about you, but that was before he realized that he hates your hair color, and he doesn’t actually like tattoos, and he really wishes you didn’t wear such skanky clothes.” She raised an eyebrow, and the woman looked down self-consciously at her own plunging neckline.

“So then he hints that hey, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal for you to change this one little thing about yourself, and you’d do it if you really cared about him. And then that one little thing becomes five little things, and you do some of them because the sex is good, and you don’t want to go back to binge-watching Netflix on Saturday nights. But you don’t do others, because, you know, he should like you the way you are, or what’s the point? And just when you think it’s going okay, you’re feeling proud of yourself because you drew the line—This is who I am, you told him—he dumps you at the Sandpiper over a basket of fried clams.”

The woman scowled at her date, who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“I don’t even eat clams,” the guy said.

“That’s why I’m done with men,” Rose declared. She grabbed a wineglass from behind the counter, splashed some pinot grigio into it, and then swallowed it down in one gulp. “Totally. Done.”

“Rosemary? May I see you for a moment?” Patricia Howard, De-Vine’s owner, was standing behind Rose, looking at her with scorn.

“Sure, Patricia. Let me just finish up with this tasting.”

“Uh … I think we’re … We’ll just … ” The guy in the polo shirt got up from his bar stool and whispered something to his date.

“You’ve got four selections left!” Rose declared as the guy tugged at his girlfriend’s arm. The two had a short, whispered disagreement, and then the woman gathered up her purse and the two headed for the door.

“That’s just like a man,” Rose called after them as they left. “You promise her things! ‘We’ll have a good time,’ you tell her! And then you run like hell at the first sign of trouble!”

“Rosemary,” Patricia said.

“They were … I was just … Oh, God,” Rose said.

•••

Getting lectured would have been one thing. That would have been fine. But when Patricia led Rose into the back room of the store and looked at her with kindness, with sympathy, well, that was worse. Rose felt tears burning her eyes as the older woman patted her shoulder and cooed at her. Rose was horrified that she needed to be cooed at.

“Honey, do you need to take the day off?” Patricia asked her.

“No, no.” Rose swiped at her eyes. “I’m fine.”

Rose was sitting in an office chair at the battered oak desk Patricia used for bookkeeping, phone calls, and the random business of running the shop. Patricia, a woman in her midsixties wearing pale pastel separates that had never seen a wrinkle, her hair coaxed into an immovable grey helmet, pursed her lipsticked mouth and made a tsking noise.

“I knew the first time that man came into the shop that he was wrong for you,” she said, continuing the shoulder patting. “Someone like that could never appreciate you.” Pat pat.

“Someone like what?” Rose sniffled and took a tissue from the box on the desk.

“He bought the chocolate wine, for goodness sake,” Patricia said, uttering the phrase “chocolate wine” as though it were an obscenity.

“Well, there’s that,” Rose agreed. “You’re right. That was a red flag.”

“I have a nephew … ” Patricia began.

“Oh, no. No way. I mean … thanks, but I’m done.”

Patricia shook her head, her lips pursed. “Rosemary, you’re thirty-two. You’re not done.”

“We’ll see about that,” Rose said.

“Hmm.” Patricia peered at Rose through the little oval glasses that perched on her nose. “I suppose we will, at that.”